School Comparison Tool

This tool allows you to compare the energy performance of a number of schools within a Local Authority group or across the whole of Energy Sparks. The aim is to allow you to identify the best and worst performing schools to provide examples of best practice and to identify the schools needing the most support to improve their energy management.

Benchmark list, All benchmarks on a single page

School groups


Scoreboards

Stages of education

Energy Cost Benchmarks

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Annual energy use per pupil

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This benchmark compares the energy consumed per pupil each year in £.

This benchmark is best used for economic comparisons.

Generally, per pupil benchmarks are appropriate for electricity (should be proportional to the appliances e.g. ICT in use), but per floor area benchmarks are more appropriate for gas (size of building which needs heating). Overall, energy use comparison on a per pupil basis is probably more appropriate than on a per floor area basis, but this analysis can be useful in some circumstances.

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Annual energy costs

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This benchmark shows how much each school is spending on energy each year.

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The table provides the information in more detail. Energy Sparks doesn't have a full set of meter data for some schools, for example rural schools with biomass or oil boilers, so this comparison might not be relevant for all schools. The comparison excludes the benefit of any solar PV which might be installed - so looks at energy consumption only.

School name Annual Electricity £ Annual Gas £ Annual Storage Heater £ Total Energy Costs £ Annual energy £/pupil Annual Energy CO2(tonnes) Annual Energy kWh Type Pupils Floor area
Heathfield Knoll School Mixed primary and secondary 180 2,700
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The gas, electricity and storage heater costs are all using the latest data. The total might not be the sum of these 3 in the circumstance where one of the meter's data is out of date, and the total then covers the most recent year where all data is available to us on all the underlying meters, and hence will cover the period of the most out of date of the underlying meters.

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Annual energy use per floor area

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This comparison benchmark is an alternative to the more commonly used per pupil energy comparison benchmark.

Generally, per pupil benchmarks are appropriate for electricity (should be proportional to the appliances e.g. ICT in use), but per floor area benchmarks are more appropriate for gas (size of building which needs heating). Overall, energy use comparison on a per pupil basis is probably more appropriate than on a per floor area basis, but this analysis can be useful in some circumstances.

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Change in Energy Use

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Change in energy use since the school joined Energy Sparks

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This benchmark compares the change in annual energy use since the school joined Energy Sparks.

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breakdown in the change in energy use since the school joined Energy Sparks

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This table provides a more detailed breakdown of the data provided in the chart and table above.

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Change in annual CO2 emissions since last year

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This benchmark compares the change in annual CO2 emissions between the last two years. All CO2 is expressed in kg (kilograms).

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Breakdown of CO2 emissions change since last year

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This chart provides a breakdown of the change in CO2 emissions between electricity, gas and solar PV, and allows you to see which has increased and decreased.

Generally an increase in solar PV production between last year and the year before, would lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions in the chart below, as the more electricity is produced by a school's solar PV panels the less CO2 a school emits overall.

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Electricity Benchmarks

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Annual electricity use per pupil

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This benchmark compares the electricity consumed per pupil each year, in £.

A realistic target for primary schools is to use less than £20 per pupil per year, for middle schools £30 and for secondaries £40. There shouldn't be a significant difference between schools as all schools need to use roughly the same amount of ICT equipment, lighting and refrigeration per pupil. Exceptions might be schools with swimming pools or sports flood lighting which can significantly increase demand.

To meet these targets the biggest reductions can often be achieved by focussing on 'baseload' ensuring equipment is turned off out of hours, and that the equipment which is left on is as efficient as possible. Energy Sparks has separate comparisons and analysis for baseload.

The data excludes storage heaters which are reported elsewhere under the 'heating' benchmarks.

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Change in annual electricity consumption

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This benchmark shows the change in electricity consumption between this year and last year, excluding solar PV and storage heaters.

Schools should be aiming to reduce their electricity consumption by about 5% per year because most equipment used by schools is getting more efficient, for example a desktop computer might use 150W, a laptop 20W and a tablet 2W. Switching from using desktops to tablets reduces their electricity consumption by a factor of 75. LED lighting can be 2 to 3 times for efficient than older florescent lighting.

To make a significant contribution to mitigating climate change schools should really be aiming to reduce their electricity consumption by 10% year on year to meet the UK's climate change obligations - something which is easily achievable through a mixture of behavioural change and tactical investment in more efficient equipment.

An increase in electricity consumption, unless there has been a significant increase in pupil numbers is inexcusable if a school is planning on contributing to reducing global carbon emissions.

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Electricity out of hours use

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This chart shows the breakdown of when schools are using electricity - school day open: when the school is open to pupils and staff, school day closed: when the school is closed to pupils and staff overnight, weekends and evenings.

Most schools are unoccupied for about 85% of the year; between 5:00pm and 7:30am on school days, at weekends and during holidays. Focussing on reducing out of hours usage; turning appliances off, installing efficient appliances often provides schools with a cost-efficient way of reducing their overall consumption.

Schools should aim to reduce their out of hours usage below 25% of annual consumption. In comparing schools, it might be helpful for you to look at the 2 additional benchmarks on baseload (out of hours power consumption) that we provide as it might give you more information on a school's out of hours consumption.

This breakdown excludes electricity consumed by storage heaters and solar PV.

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Last week's baseload versus average of last year (% difference)

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This benchmark compares a school's current baseload (electricity consumed when the school is closed) with that of the average of the last year. Schools should be aiming to reduce baseload over time and not increase it as equipment and lighting has become significantly more efficient over the last few years. Any increase should be tracked down as soon as it is discovered. Energy Sparks can be configured to send you an alert via an email or a text message if it detects this has happened.

A 1 kW increase in baseload is equivalent to an increase in annual electricity costs of £1,100.

This breakdown excludes electricity consumed by storage heaters and solar PV.

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Baseload per pupil

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A school's baseload is the power it consumes out of hours when the school is unoccupied.

This is one of the most useful benchmarks for understanding a school's electricity use, as half of most schools' electricity is consumed out of hours, reducing the baseload will have a big impact on overall electricity consumption.

All schools should aim to reduce their electricity baseload per pupil to that of the best schools. Schools perform roughly the same function so should be able to achieve similar electricity consumption particularly out of hours.

Consumers of out of hours electricity include

This breakdown excludes electricity consumed by storage heaters and solar PV.

School name Baseload per pupil (W) Annual cost of baseload Average baseload kW Saving if moved to exemplar
Heathfield Knoll School 29.7 £7,020 5.34 0p
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Seasonal baseload variation

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A school's baseload is the power it consumes out of hours when the school is unoccupied.

In general, in general with very few exceptions the baseload in the winter should be very slimiar to the summer. In practice many school accidently leave electrically powered heating-related equipment on overnight whe the school is unoccupied.

Identifying and turning off or better timing such equipment is a quick way of saving electricity and costs.

Consumers of out of hours electricity include

This breakdown excludes electricity consumed by storage heaters and solar PV.

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Weekday baseload variation

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A school's baseload is the power it consumes out of hours when the school is unoccupied.

In general, in general with very few exceptions the baseload shouldn't vary between days of the week and even between weekdays and weekends.

If there is a big variation it often suggests that there is an opportunity to reduce baseload by find out what is causing the baseload to be higher on certain days of the week than others, and switch off whatever is causing the difference.

Consumers of out of hours electricity include

This breakdown excludes electricity consumed by storage heaters and solar PV.

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Peak school day electricity comparison kW/floor area

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This comparison shows the peak daily school power consumption per floor area. High values compared with other schools might suggest inefficient lighting, appliances or kitchen equipment. The peaks generally occur during the middle of the day. Energy Sparks allows you to drill down to individual school day usage to better understand the intraday characteristics of a school's electricity consumption.

If a school's electricity consumption is high compared with other schools is probably warrants further investigation. There might be simple low-cost remedies like turning lighting off when it is bright outside, or better management of appliances in a school's kitchen. Other measures like installing LED lighting might require investment.

LED lighting for example can consume as little as 4W/m2, whereas older less efficient lighting can consume up to 12W/m2.

School name w/floor area average peak kw exemplar peak kw saving if match exemplar (£)
Heathfield Knoll School 19.1 51.7 27 £2,810
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Benefit of estimated optimum size solar PV installation

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The comparison below shows the benefit of installing solar PV panels at schools which don't already have solar PV panels. This analysis is based on using half hourly electricity consumption at each school over the last year and combining it with local half hourly solar pv data to work out the benefit of installing solar panels. Further detail is provided if you drilldown to a school's individual analysis - where a range of different scenarios of different numbers of panels is presented.

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Progress versus electricity target

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How school is progressing versus the target it has set for this year.

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Change in electricity consumption since last school week

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This comparison simply shows the change in electricity consumption since the last school week. You should expect a slight but not significant increase in electricity consumption going into the winter with increased lighting usage and a subsequent reduction in the spring.

An infinite value indicates the consumption in the first period was zero.

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Change in electricity consumption between the 2 most recent holidays

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This comparison shows the change in consumption between the 2 most recent holidays.

An infinite value indicates the consumption in the first period was zero.

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Change in electricity consumption between this holiday and the same holiday the previous year

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This comparison shows the change in consumption the most recent holiday, and the same holiday a year ago. Schools should be looking to reduce holiday usage by switching appliances off and generally reducing baseload. An increase from year to year suggests a school is not managing to reduce consumption, which would help mitigate some of the impacts of climate change.

An infinite value indicates the consumption in the first period was zero.

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Gas and Storage Heater Benchmarks

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Annual heating cost per floor area

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This benchmark compares the gas and storage heater costs per floor area (m2) each year, in £.

The benchmark is adjusted for regional temperatures over the last year, so that for example schools in Scotland are compared on the same terms as schools in the warmer south west of England.

For schools heated by gas, the cost includes gas used for hot water and by the school kitchen.

More modern schools should have lower consumption, however, a well-managed Victorian school which turns its heating off during holidays and weekends often has lower heating and hot water consumption than more modern schools.

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Change in annual heating consumption

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This benchmark shows the change in the gas and storage heater costs from last year to this year.

Schools should aim to reduce their heating and hot water costs each year through better control of boilers and storage radiators; making sure they are switched off when unoccupied. Better management can typically reduce these costs by between 15% and 50%, at little or no cost to a school. Even something as simple as turning the thermostat down 1C can lead to a significant reduction in costs.

Upgrading boilers, switching from gas based circulatory hot water systems to point of use electric hot water, and installing boiler optimum start control and weather compensation which require investment will reduce costs further.

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Gas: out of hours use

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This chart shows the breakdown of when schools are using gas - school day open: when the school is open to pupils and staff, school day closed: when the school is closed to pupils and staff overnight, weekends and evenings.

Most schools are unoccupied for about 85% of the year; between 5:00pm and 7:30am on school days, at weekends and during holidays. Focussing on reducing out of hours usage; turning heating and hot water systems off out of hours provides schools with a cost-efficient way of reducing their overall consumption.

Schools should aim to reduce their out of hours usage below 35% of annual consumption. Implementing a policy to reduce weekend and holiday use, and ensuring the boiler doesn't start too early in the morning should allow most school's to meet this target with no capital investment costs. It shouldn't be necessary to leave heating on during winter holidays and weekends if the boilers frost protection functions have been configured correctly to come on only when necessary.

You can get Energy Sparks to send you a reminder (an 'alert') just before holidays to turn your heating off.

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Storage heater out of hours use

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Storage heaters consume electricity and store heat overnight when electricity is cheaper (assuming the school is on an 'economy 7' type differential tariff) and releases the heat during the day.

Ensuring heating is turned off over the weekend by installing a 7 day timer can provide very short paybacks - 16 weeks in this case study. Turning off the heaters or turning them down as low as possible to avoid frost damage can save during holidays. We recommend you set a school policy for this. Energy Sparks can provide accurate estimates of the benefits of installing 7-day timers, or switching off during holidays if you drilldown to an individual school's analysis pages.

You can get Energy Sparks to send you a reminder (an 'alert') just before holidays to turn your heating off.

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Heating start time (potentially coming on too early in morning)

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This benchmark shows what time the boilers having been starting on average in the last week.

Generally, if the weather last week was mild then you might expect the heating to be coming on at about 6:30am. In colder weather depending on the fabric (insulation, thermal mass) of the school you might expect the heating to start earlier at perhaps 3:00am. If it's coming on earlier the school's boiler control probably warrants further investigation.

If the boiler is coming on too early remedies include:

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Optimum start analysis

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This experimental analysis attempts to help determine whether a school's optimum start control is working by looking at the times the boiler has started over the last year.

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Annual saving through 1C reduction in thermostat temperature

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This chart and table indicate the benefit at each school of reducing the thermostats temperature setting per 1C of reduction.

Occasionally this will result in a negative value, which is indicative or very poor thermostatic control where the internal mathematics cannot make sense of the relationship between the school's gas consumption and outside temperature.

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Number of days heating was on last year

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Schools often forget to turn their heating off in warm weather, about 10% of schools leave their heating on all summer.

The chart and table below show how many days the heating was left on in the last year and the potential benefit of switching the heating off in warmer weather. Schools should target reducing the length of the heating season to below 90 days.

You can set up Energy Sparks email or text alerts which will notify you if the weather forecast for the coming week suggests you should turn off your heating.

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Quality of thermostatic control

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Energy Sparks calculates how good a school's thermostatic control is by calculating a measure called 'R2'. The heating consumption of a school should be linearly proportional to the outside temperature, the colder it is the more energy is required to keep the school warm. The 'R2' is a measure of how well correlated this heating consumption is with outside temperature - the closer to 1.0 the better the control. Any value above 0.8 is good. If a school has a value below 0.5 it suggests the thermostatic control is very poor and there is a limited relationship between the temperature and the heating used to keep the school warm.

There can be many reasons for this control being poor:

Poor thermostat control can make a school an uncomfortable place to inhabit and expensive to run. It also means a school will see less benefit in installing insulation if the heating consumption has little relationship to outside temperature and therefore heat loss.

If a school's thermostatic control is poor and want to improve it, please contact Energy Sparks and we would be happy to provide further advice.

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Hot Water Efficiency

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Hot water in schools is generally provided by a central gas boiler which then continuously circulates the hot water in a loop around the school. Sometimes these gas-based systems are supplemented by more local electrically powered immersion or point of use heaters.

The circulatory gas-based systems in schools are generally very inefficient. These inefficiencies offer significant cost and carbon emission saving opportunities if addressed.

These systems are inefficient because they circulate hot water permanently in a loop around the school so hot water is immediately available when someone turns on a tap rather than having to wait for the hot water to come all the way from the boiler room. The circulatory pipework used to do this is often poorly insulated and loses heat. Often these types of systems are only 15% efficient compared with direct point of use water heaters which can be over 90% efficient. Replacing the pipework insulation is generally not a cost-efficient investment.

Drilling down to an individual school's hot water analysis provides more detailed information on how a school can reduce its hot water costs.

The charts and table below analyse the efficiency of schools' hot water systems and the potential savings from either improving the timing control of existing hot water systems or replacing it completely with point of use electric hot water systems.

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Change in gas consumption since last school week

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This comparison simply shows the change in gas consumption since the last school week. You might expect an increase in gas consumption going into the winter as it gets colder and a subsequent reduction in the spring.

An infinite value indicates the consumption in the first period was zero.

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Change in gas consumption between the 2 most recent holidays

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This comparison shows the change in consumption between the 2 most recent holidays. This can be affected by whether the heating was turned on one of the holidays, and not on the other. Generally, schools don't need heating during holidays, or at least not to heat the whole school if minimally occupied! Using an electric fan heater is always more cost effective for a few individuals in the school during holidays than heating the whole school.

You can setup an Energy Sparks 'alert' to send you an email or text message just before a holiday to remind you to turn heating or hot water off.

An infinite value indicates the consumption in the first period was zero.

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Change in gas consumption between this holiday and the same the previous year

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This comparison shows the change in consumption the most recent holiday, and the same holiday a year ago. Schools should be looking to reduce holiday usage by switching heating and hot water off over holidays when it is often unnecessary. A significant increase from year to year suggests a school is not managing to reduce consumption, which would help mitigate some of the impacts of climate change. You can setup an Energy Sparks 'alert' to send you an email or text message just before a holiday to remind you to turn heating or hot water off.

An infinite value indicates the consumption in the first period was zero.

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Metering Potential Cost Savings

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Opportunities for electricity meter consolidation

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Electricity meters can have quite high standing charges, between £500 and £5,000 per year. If a school has several electricity meters it might be worth consolidating them i.e. getting your local electricity network provider or energy company to reduce the number of meters in a school to reduce annual standing order costs, this consolidation often costs about £1,000.

You need to consider how far apart the meters are, if for example they are in the same room or cupboard the change could cost you very little. The choice can also be determined by whether you have storage heaters, historically it would have been cheaper to have them on a separate meter, but with the advent of smart and advanced meters 10 years ago this is less necessary as your energy supplier can read you meters half hourly and can charge the appropriate lower cost for your overnight usage.

This is a simple low cost change a school can make, the chart and table below attempt to estimate the potential saving based on some indicative standing charges for your area; you will need to look at your bills to get a more accurate estimate.

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Opportunities for gas meter consolidation

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Gas meters can have quite high standing charges, between £500 and £5,000 per year. If a school has a number of gas meters it might be worth consolidating them i.e. getting your local gas network provider or energy company to reduce the number of meters in a school to reduce annual standing order costs, this consolidation often costs about £1,000 but can provide guaranteed annual savings.

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Benefit of moving to or away from a differential tariff

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Electricity is generally charged at a flat rate, for example 15p/kWh whatever the time of day. Your energy company's costs however vary significantly depending on supply and demand at different times of day, from perhaps 4p/kWh overnight to 25p/kWh at peak times. Electricity companies generally offer differential tariff's (economy 7) which have lower overnight costs (typically 15p/kWh) and slightly higher daytime costs (16p/kWh) to users who have high overnight consumption to share the benefit of cheaper overnight wholesale costs.

Typically, this should benefit schools with storage heaters, however many schools with storage heaters are on a single flat tariff and fail to gain from lower overnight prices.

The chart and table below estimate the potential benefit of switching to or from a differential tariff.

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